It's that time of year when printer makers introduce new models and all the main players are ramping up their marketing machines. Lexmark has more than most to tell us, with a new ink system and new touchscreen controls on some of its higher end models. The Interpret S405 has the new inks, but not the screen and is intended as a medium-level all-in-one for home and small business use.
Clad in frosted black and light grey, the S405 still has high-gloss highlights, such as the top of its completely horizontal Automatic Document Feeder (ADF). Paper is picked and rolled from the ADF in much the same way as blank sheets are picked from a horizontal paper tray.
Blank sheets on this machine still feed from a near vertical hopper at the rear, though this one has the innovation of a small slide, down its right-hand side, which adjusts the paper guides from A4 to photo papers. The output tray pulls out from the front, with a steeply raked end, which flips up to catch output pages.
The control panel, with its slightly incongruous acrylic band across the top, is well laid out, with a number pad for fax use and a simple, four-button navigation set which, combined with its backlit, 2-line by 16-character LCD display, gives good control of the machine's functions. Four, silver buttons above the display select copy, scan, fax and photo printing modes.
There's just one memory card socket, which takes SD, Memory Stick and xD formats, but there's also a USB socket, which is just as happy with a USB memory drive as it is with a PictBridge camera. There's another USB port and an Ethernet port for connecting the printer to your PC, though Wi-Fi is built-in to provide the ever-popular wireless option as well.
The ink system, called Vizix, is all new and Lexmark has made the switch to individual ink cartridges and separate, semi-permanent print heads, no longer integrated into the cartridges. In this respect it's very similar to recent Canon and HP designs, though Lexmark's cartridges are a bit more fiddly to slot into the head carrier.
There's the usual extensive bundle of support software, including Abbyy FineReader for Optical Character Recognition. There's now better integration with Word, too.